Light and Scrumptious Spinach Artichoke Dip

Spinach-Artichoke Dip from Real Simple

Whether it’s a huge football game like tonight’s National Championship game, the Super Bowl, weekend entertaining or just for the fun of it, I love to make a hot Spinach-Artichoke Dip. Probably because my kids love to eat it! This is a lightened version that works great with light cheese, low-fat sour cream and reduced-fat mayonnaise. Processing it in the food processor contributes to its awesome texture. So, if you’re watching your weight right now and trying to keep your New Year’s resolutions, you can still enjoy this hot dip.

 

Low-Fat Spinach Artichoke Dip

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 35 minutes

Yield: 12 servings

Ingredients

1 teaspoon olive oil

1 medium onion, finely chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)

2 cloves garlic

1 (14-ounce) can quartered artichoke hearts, drained

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, defrosted, excess liquid squeezed out

1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream

2 tablespoons reduced-fat mayonnaise

1/2 cup (about 4 ounces) reduced-fat cream cheese

1/2 cup shredded 2% milk cheddar cheese

1/4 cup shredded Swiss cheese

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

Pita wedges or crudites, for serving

Directions

1. Preheat oven to 350F.

2. Heat the oil in a saute pan over medium heat. Add onions and cook, stirring occasionally, 4 to 5 minutes. Add garlic and cook an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until onions are light-golden but not browned. Remove from heat and cool.

3. In the bowl of a food processor combine the artichoke hearts, spinach and next 7 ingredients. Process until smooth. Fold vegetable puree into sauteed onions, then spread into an 8-inch glass square baking dish or 9-inch glass pie plate which has been lightly sprayed with cooking spray. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes or until heated through. Serve with pita wedges or crudites.

New Year’s Black-Eyed Pea Caviar Dip

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In the southern United Sates, it is believed that eating black-eyed peas on New Years will bring good luck in the coming year. Because of this tradition, many friends and family ask me for recipes using black-eye peas this time of year. This recipe is great because it’s so versatile. It is simple to prepare, colorful and flavorful. Even my youngest son, Zachary (8), couldn’t stop eating it. Serve it on top of a salad, inside of bell peppers, on top of tacos or fajitas or served with crackers or tortilla chips. 


Black-Eyed Pea Caviar Dip

Prep: 20 minutes

Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients

1/2 cup balsamic vinegar

1/4 cup olive oil

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

2 (15-ounce) cans black-eyed peas, rinsed and drained

1/2 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/2 cup chopped yellow bell peppper

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/4 cup chopped red onion

1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, quartered

1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley

Preparation

1. Whisk together balsamic vinegar and next 2 ingredients in a small bowl; set aside.

2. Add black-eyed peas and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; drizzle with dressing. Cover and refrigerate at least 1 hour before serving. Serve with crackers or tortilla chips.

Christmas and Holiday Mini Chocolate Cookies

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If you’re looking for the easiest cookie ever, look no further.  With just a few ingredients that you probably already have in your pantry, you can make these cookies with ease. Whether you’re having guests over for the holidays, want to make a holiday snack or headed to a cookie swap, this recipe makes plenty and is sure to please (also kids go nuts over them). They are so small that you won’t feel any guilt eating more than one or two. Feel free to add extra chocolate chips if you like. 

 

Mini Chocolate Chip Cookies

Prep: 10 minutes

Cook: 12 minutes

Yield: 4 dozen

Ingredients

1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter or margarine, softened

3/4 cup powdered sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon salt

3 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups or 1 (12-ounce) package  semisweet mini morsels

1/2 cup finely chopped nuts (pecans or walnuts)

Powdered sugar

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375° F.

2. Beat butter, sugar, vanilla extract and salt in large mixer bowl until creamy. Gradually beat in flour; stir in morsels and nuts. Shape level tablespoons of dough into 1 1/4-inch balls. Place on ungreased baking sheets.

3. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes or until cookies are set and lightly browned. Remove from oven. Sift powdered sugar over hot cookies on baking sheets. Cool on baking sheets for 10 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely. Sprinkle with additional powdered sugar, if desired. Store in airtight containers.

Two Ingredient Food Holiday Gift Idea-White Chocolate Popcorn

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Caramel popcorn can be a popular holiday gift. We usually receive several tins of it every year, and my kids devour it. As a Recipe Developer, I sometimes try to take a popular concept and give it a new twist. Since I had some extra white chocolate on hand, I thought I would develop a simple new recipe for White Chocolate Popcorn, and it worked great! This recipe takes no time at all and has only two ingredients. Best, of all, there’s hardly any mess. 

 

White Chocolate Popcorn

Feel free to double this recipe.

Prep: 5 minutes

Yield: 6 cups

Ingredients

1 (11-ounce) package white chocoolate morsels (I used Ghiradelli white chocolate or Nestle Milk Chocolate Morsels)

6 cups popcorn (popped without salt or fat)

Preparation

1. Place white or milk chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl on HIGH 1 to 2 minutes or until melted, stirring once.  Combine chocolate and popcorn in a large mixing bowl, tossing gently.  Spread mixture on a large baking sheet covered with parchment paper; let cool and store in an airtight container.

Easy Holiday Appetizer-Fresh Basil Dip

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Since now is the time for holiday parties galore, I thought I would answer a question I get so often this time of year: What type of easy appetizer can I bring or make for a holiday get-together? The options are endless, and I could write a book on this topic, but with all the heavy holiday foods, I like something light. This dip is fresh, healthy and refreshing made with fresh basil, lemon juice, lemon zest and garlic. Serve it with fresh vegetables for a pretty presentation, and you can feel great about digging in.


Fresh Basil Dip  

This dip is also great served alongside cooked salmon, shrimp or scallops.

Prep: 15 minutes

Yield about 1 1/2 cups 

Ingredients

1 clove garlic 

1/4 teaspoon kosher salt 

1 cup fresh basil leaves

1 cup light mayonnaise 

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil 

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard 

1/2 teaspoon freshly squeezed lemon juice 

1/2 teaspoon grated lemon zest

Fresh Vegetables, crackers

Preparation

1. In a blender or food processor, combine the garlic and next 7 ingredients: process until smooth. 

2. Transfer the sauce to a bowl, cover and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes. Serve with fresh vegetables and/or crackers.

Thanksgiving Appetizer-Brie with Cranberries and Walnuts

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With only hours left until Thanksgiving, I know everyone is busy trying to complete last minute tasks. To start Thanksgiving off right, I thought I would present one of the easiest appetizers that my family loves. The combination of caramel, walnuts, cranberries and golden raisins adds the perfect sweet, crunch and warm taste of fall. You can prepare this right before the guests arrive as it just takes minutes to prepare with absolutely no mess or cleanup. This appetizer is also a great idea for Christmas, New Years or anytime you entertain. Happy Thanksgiving!

 

Autumn Brie

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 7 minutes

Yield: 10 servings

Ingredients

1 (1/2 pound) Brie wedge

1/4 cup caramel Dip (I used T. Marzetti Caramel Dip)

1/3 cup chopped walnuts

3 tablespoons dried cranberries

2 tablespoons golden raisins

Gingersnaps or crackers

Preparation

1. Cut off top part of Brie; spread with caramel dip. Sprinkle walnuts, cranberries and raisins over top. 

2. Bake at 300F for 6 to 10 minutes or until Brie is just slightly warmed and starting to melt. Serve with gingersnaps or crackers.

Appetizers-Hummus for Thanksgiving

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My family prepares an array of appetizers for Thanksgiving, but one that’s not very traditional, yet stays on our menu is this Hummus Dip Recipe. It’s so delicious with fresh vegetables, toasted pita or pita chips, and it gives us a light note to start off the Thanksgiving meal. What I really like about serving this type of appetizer is that my kids love it and eat it, and I feel like they are getting something truly healthy. Enjoy it anytime of the year, but why not start now.

 

Hummus Dip

Prep: 10 minutes

Yield: about 3 cups

Ingredients

4 garlic cloves

2 cups canned chickpeas, drained, liquid reserved

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/3 cup tahini (sesame paste)

6 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons)

2 tablespoons water or liquid from the chickpeas

4 dashes hot sauce

Cayenne pepper, paprika and olive oil (optional)

Directions

1. Turn on the food processor fitted with the steel blade and drop the garlic down the feed tube; process until it’s minced. Add the rest of the ingredients to the food processor and process until the hummus is coarsely pureed. Taste, for seasoning, and serve chilled or at room temperature topped with cayenne, paprika and olive oil, if desired.

Holiday Spiced Nuts

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I love spiced nuts! I have been trying to develop a lower fat recipe since nuts have enough fat on their own (but don’t forget those are good fats). This recipe is just in time for the holidays, or you can enjoy them as a snack or also tossed in a mixed green salad with fresh pears and blue cheese. Feel free to use any type of nuts that you want. These are worth every bite, and there’s no oil or butter in the recipe.

 

Spiced Almonds and Pecans 

Prep: 5 minutes

Cook: 25 minutes

Yield: 41/2 cups

Ingredients

2 (6-ounce) packages pecan halves

1  (6 ounce) can whole natural almonds

1/3  cup  packed brown sugar

11/2  teaspoons  ground cinnamon

1/2  teaspoon  ground cumin

2  large egg whites, lightly beaten

Cooking spray

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 325°.

2. Combine pecans, almonds and next 3 ingredients in a small bowl. Stir in egg whites. Spread mixture evenly onto a foil-lined baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake at 325° for 10 minutes. Stir mixture; bake an additional 15 minutes or until crisp. Transfer foil to a wire rack; cool almond mixture. Break almond mixture into small pieces.

Note: Store at room temperature in an airtight container for up to one week.